Friday, November 20, 2009

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The narrator in this book is Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic boy who knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057.  Late one evening he encounters the dead body of his neighbor's dog and is determined to solve the mystery of who would murder this nice poodle, though specifically told by his father to "stay out of other people's business."

Told in first person, this novel shows the world through the eyes of a boy with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, complete with his inability filter the overwhelming amounts of minute information we receive through our senses at any given moment, his inability to relate to or be touched by other people, his dislike of certain colors, and his need for all things to be in a certain order.  Yet, Christopher is a delightfully sympathetic narrator and hero.  I couldn't help but admire him for his challenges, the implicit humor, and the innocence and sweet certainty of his personality and his assessment of every situation.  He is removed from feelings and responds only with logic, and often times, this means that what is an everyday event for the rest of us requires heroic efforts from him.  Of course, he gets more than he bargained for when he starts his investigation. 

It's a fascinating book not only for the interesting plot, its characters and their relationships, but mostly because of the glimpse into what life on the autism spectrum might be like.  And equally interesting for it's perspective on the everyday challenges that face the parents of children with autism, and the both frustrating, humorous, and endearing parts of building a relationship with that child.  Would make a great book group discussion book as well.

Note: there is a bit of language used by the characters out of anger, as well as some discussion/explanation of extramarital relationships, though nothing explicit.


Courtney said...

I read this a few years ago and LOVED it. It is a fascinating look into what it's like for people with Autism. The narrator is so easy to love. Excellent book.

Anna said...

I forgot about this one. It is such a good read. Very interesting point of view.

Diana Beck McCarty said...

This one has been mentioned in my book group for the upcoming year. Heard it was great.

Kris Olson said...

Fabulous book. I have a son with Asperger Syndrome and it was really very thought-provoking for our whole family. I am recommending it for anyone who knows my son!